UK, allies escalate aggression against Syria

With talk of impending war against Syria, all eyes are on the British government and how they, along with their allies, will act next.

Russia has sternly warned Britain and the US against attacking Syria, with president Vladimir Putin warning of catastrophic consequences if they follow through.


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Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a holiday and returned to London in order to prepare for a meeting on Wednesday with the UK’s National Security Council.

Britain has already been heavily supportive of the militants fighting the Syrian government, but with little success to show for it, they are now looking to escalate the crisis in order to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Cameron gave an interview Tuesday saying that it was a developing situation but that the UK shouldn’t stand by. He confessed that he couldn’t be 100% certain that the Syrian govt used the weapons but claimed that Damascus had used them before and said that the militants didn’t have the capability or motive to use them. He also made a startling claim that this wasn’t about the Syrian conflict or Middle East but deterring the use of chemical weapons in the future.

And following huge pressure from MPs from all three major parties to let parliament debate the prospect of attacking Syria, the prime minister recalled parliament for an emergency session to be held on Thursday.

Thursday’s Commons vote on the issue won’t be legally binding. MPs are worried about the consequences of military intervention and with the public still angry about the lies, which led to the invasion of Iraq, public opinion is firmly against any British involvement in Syria.

Ahead of the debate in parliament, David Cameron is gambling that MPs will agree with his assessment that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack in Ghouta near Damascus. If they don’t and he launches an attack anyway it would be an extraordinary flouting of Parliament’s authority and a complete disregard of the British public’s mood.

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▶ US angered at Russia for granting asylum to Snowden – YouTube

Despite the obvious disappointment over successful application for asylum by American whistleblower Edward Snowden, US officials say they will hold talks on pressing bilateral and global issues with their Russian counterparts in Washington, including Syria and Iran’s nuclear program. The two sides are also to discuss Snowden’s case.

via ▶ US angered at Russia for granting asylum to Snowden – YouTube.

Russia unveils S-300 SAM replacement Sky Defender

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Russia has for the first time demonstrated the short-to-mid-range air defense platform ‘Vityaz,’ which will replace older variants of the S-300 system due to be scrapped soon. The army will begin testing the new hardware later this year.

The new surface-to-air missile system is made by Russian weapons manufacturer Almaz-Antey. The company demonstrated the system at the Obukhov State Plant in St. Petersburg, home to its branch that manufactures the Vityaz launchers.
The system boasts advanced all-aspect phased array radar, a new mobile command post and a launcher carrying 12 vertical-launch missiles, which will use a variant of the 9M96 active radar homing missile. Similar missiles are used by the S-400, the newer generation of the S-300, which is currently being deployed in Russia.

Vityaz launchers can also fire a short-range missile that was not officially identified, but is likely a variant of the 9M100.

“I believe the system will be able to engage target within ranges from 30km to 120km,” Said Aminov, military analyst and editor of the World of Air Defense website told RT. “It’s a system of object air defense with some element of tactical antimissile defense.”

Almaz-Antey aims to hand over the system to the Russian Defense Ministry for testing before the year’s end, company head Vladislav Menshikov told Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was inspecting the plant.

The company partially based the design of the Vityaz on its work with the South Korean KM-SAM Chun Koong system. Almaz-Antey designed three radar units for the KM-SAM, and is rumored to have also helped design the system’s missiles.

The Russian military officially backed the Vityaz project — which has better capabilities than the Korean air defense system — after studying its performance, Almaz-Antey said in 2010. The new Russian system has been in the works since 2007, and is expected to be completed in record time.

The ministry earlier said it plans to buy at least 30 Vityaz systems before 2020, if it passes testing, and deployment of the platforms could start as early as next year.

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Putin on NSA leak: Government surveillance shouldn’t break law – YouTube

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Putin on NSA leak: Government surveillance shouldn’t break law – YouTube.

Data surveillance is an acceptable measure if done within the law, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told RT while visiting the channel in the capital.

Speaking to RT the Russian president stressed that Snowden revealed “nothing we didn’t know before”, adding that surveillance “is becoming a global phenomenon in the context of combatting international terrorism”, and that “such methods are generally practicable”.

But Putin pointed out that “the question is how well those security agencies are controlled by the public.”

“I can tell you that, at least in Russia, you cannot just go and tap into someone’s phone conversation without a warrant issued by court,” Putin said answering the question of RT’s Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan.

“That’s more or less the way a civilized society should go about fighting terrorism with modern-day technology. As long as it is exercised within the boundaries of the law that regulates intelligence activities, it’s alright. But if it’s unlawful, then it’s bad.”

Commenting on Obama’s statement that “You can’t have 100 per cent security and 100 per cent privacy,” Putin disagreed, saying it is possible if done within the law.

Earlier on Tuesday, Putin’s press-secretary Dmitry Peskov told to a newspaper that Russia could consider the possibility of granting political asylum to 29-year-old Edward Snowden, if such a request is made. The ex-CIA worker is behind one of the biggest leaks of our time as he disclosed the existence of PRISM, the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive data-mining surveillance program, to The Guardian last week.

The whereabouts of whistleblower remain unknown after he checked out of a Hong Kong hotel on Monday after revealing his identity and making a public statement in a interview with The Guardian a day earlier.

‘Syria should have undertaken reform in due time’

Speaking about the conflict in Syria, the president said it was possible to avoid the civilian war by conducting reforms in due time.

“Syria as a country was rife for some kind of change. And the government of Syria should have felt that in due time and should have undertaken some reform,” Putin said. “Had they done that, what we’re seeing in Syria today would have never happened.”

However, he added, one should take into account that the entire Middle East is currently finding itself in a state of uncertainty and conflict — and it’s wrong to try and interfere from outside.

“From the outside some people think that if you bring the entire region in compliance with someone’s specific idea of democracy, things will settle down, and everything will be all right in that region. But that’s not true. Considering that region’s background history, culture, religion — you cannot interfere with it from the outside.”

Putin pointed out that the West is supporting some certain organizations that are fighting Assad in Syria, and they are countering “those very same groups” in Mali.

via Putin on NSA leak: Government surveillance shouldn’t break law – YouTube.


Putin says S-300 missile contract with Syria not complete


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Russian President Vladimir Putin settled some outstanding questions regarding Russia’s pending delivery of the S-300 surface to air missile system to the Syrian government at the Russia-EU 2013 Summit in Ekaterinburg on Tuesday. Standing in between European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Putin informed the audience that the contact has yet to be completed.

The announcement came as a response to a question by a journalist at the press conference after the conclusion of the summit.

“We gave much attention on the situation in Syria. On our side, we reiterate that any attempt to use force from an outside intervention are doomed to failure and will incur heavy humanitarian costs,” said Mr. Putin. “What are the obstacles? The obstacles are that the lack of good will on the side of the armed opposition, the lack of a single platform of the armed opposition, and the impossibility to determine the composition of participants on the side of the armed opposition to take part in the conference. We hope that all of these questions will be solved as quickly as possible.”

“Concerning the S-300, this is definitely one of the best missile systems in the world, if not the best. It probably is the best. This is, of course, a serious weapon. We do not want to disturb the balance in the region. The contract was written several years ago, but has not yet been completed.”

European Commission President Herman van Rompuy expressed European support for the recent push by the Russian and US governments for a peace summit involving both sides in the Syrian conflict.

“On Syria, the European Union welcomes the joint Russian-US initiative for the Geneva 2 conference,” he said. “We are giving our full support to this very important political peace process.”

The 31st Russia-EU summit in Ekaterinburg got off to a promising start when Putin highlighted the record trade volume between the two powers, which grew 4.1 per cent to $410.3 billion (€314.2 billion) in 2012.

Summit topics ranged from focus on pressing foreign policy issues, such as the conflict in Syria, as well as the growth and development of international organisations, including the Russian-led Eurasian Union and the Arctic Council. Both Russian Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union Baroness Catherine Ashton were in attendance at the high level talks.

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Putin warns Israel against aggression on Syria


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Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Israel against any further aggression on Syria, media reports say.
During a Tuesday phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Putin said that “Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.”

Israeli Debka website quoted Putin as saying that Russia would not allow Israel, United States or anyone to launch military action on Syria.

Putin said that he had ordered the acceleration of highly advanced Russian weapons supplies to Syria.

Putin’s warning comes after Israel’s attacked on Syrian soil on Sunday which left at least 15 people dead, according to a letter submitted by Syrian foreign ministry to United Nations.

According to the report, the Russian president said that Moscow will act against western attempts aimed at toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Russia and the US are at odds over the Syria crisis. While US supports anti-Damascus militants seeking to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Russia remains a supporter of his government.

Russia accuses the West of worsening the Syrian conflict by calling for the ouster of Assad.

A US Senator introduced a bill on Tuesday that would provide weapons to terrorist groups fighting in Syria.

Moscow has voiced its strong opposition to arming militants in Syria, stressing that any such move would breach international law.

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